By Matthew Malone

Staff Writer

Galt residents have three chances in the next month or so to learn about and comment on regional groundwater-management efforts.

The group tasked with developing a strategy to conserve groundwater in the Cosumnes Subbasin will host two in-person workshops on Sept. 16 — at 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. — to explain its draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan. A follow-up webinar on Oct. 6 at 6:30 p.m. will give time for further questions and feedback.

The location of the September workshops had not been announced as of press time. Organizers are encouraging those interested in attending to RSVP in order to be notified when a meeting place has been selected.

The Cosumnes Subbasin SGMA Working Group, composed of representatives from the seven jurisdictions that overlie the subbasin, including Galt, was created to comply with 2014’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

The subbasin has historically experienced an annual overdraft of about 11,600 acre-feet of water, an amount that would cover 11,600 acres with one foot of water.

While that overdraft is “relatively speaking a smaller amount,” according to Public Works Director Mike Selling, “over time, it will continue to deplete if we don’t take some actions in order to be more conservative with our water use and also to find ways to have more water recharge the basin.”

The working group first presented its draft at the end of August for an online workshop that Selling said attracted roughly 60 participants. Anona Dutton, the vice president of consulting firm EKI Environment & Water, explained the state requirements for the subbasin, the long-term drop in the area water table, and what it would mean to reach sustainability.

Selling found Dutton’s overview of the situation approachable.

“I think she did a really good job communicating it at a level that the average property owner or citizen could understand,” Selling said. “A lot of times, consultants and even us city staff can be kind of on the technical side and talking in technical terms that are not so easy to understand.”

The director said the workshop can give attendees a better grasp of where the city gets its water from and how much water it uses, as well as the importance of being “conservation minded.”

Galt is a fairly small water user compared to the other subbasin jurisdictions, many of which are agricultural, and Selling said the city is in a “fortuitous” position to meet part of the city’s conservation goals.

To reduce demands on the basin, water from the Wastewater Treatment Plant would be used to irrigate the livestock-feed crops that happen to be grown on the surrounding land.

The city will also focus on recharge initiatives that divert excess rainwater onto fields, allowing it to percolate into the basin.

For more information on the workshops, and for links to RSVP forms, visit https://cosumnes.waterforum.org/meetings and click the “Public Workshops” drop-down menu.